HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveVolume 19Issue 13Midwest Gaming Expansion Update: Iowa to Get New Hard Rock Hotel and Casino; Illinois Passes Gaming Expansion Bill

Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Chooses Hard Rock Casino Development

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (“IRGC”) recently voted to award a casino license to Sioux City Entertainment, a subsidiary of Warner Gaming, LLC, which will develop a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in downtown Sioux City, Iowa.  The $118.5 Million development will include a 30,000 square foot gaming floor featuring 800 slot machines and 32 table games, as well as a 60-room hotel, a buffet, an upscale restaurant, a sports-themed bar and a 750-seat theater.  The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City will replace the Argosy Sioux City Riverboat, which is operated by Penn National Gaming.  In winning the land-based casino license, Sioux City Entertainment/Warner Gaming beat out competing proposals by Penn National Gaming and Warrior Gaming, LLC. 

In a press release following the IRGC’s decision, Bill Warner, President of Warner Gaming and Sioux City Entertainment stated, “[o]n behalf of the Sioux City Entertainment, Warner Gaming, and Missouri River Historical Development team I would like to thank the residents of Woodbury County and the IRGC for choosing the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino proposal. We couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this community. We look forward to entertaining, innovating, growing, and sharing with Siouxland for many years to come. We will always do what is in the best interest of the people of Siouxland and continue to work closely with the community as we begin construction on the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City.”

In addition to the Sioux City development, Warner Gaming and its subsidiaries manage a variety of other gaming, entertainment and resort properties nationwide, including the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Illinois Bill Seeks to Expand Gaming, Open a Chicago Casino

On Wednesday, May 1, the Illinois Senate passed Senate Bill (“SB”) 1739, a sweeping measure that would allow for five new commercial casinos in the state, and for the placement of slot machines at Illinois race tracks and Chicago airports, by a vote of 32-20.  The bill, which has drawn a great deal of support from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, has now moved to the House of Representatives, where it has been referred to the House Rules Committee for review. 

The measure would allow for new commercial casinos to be built and operated in Chicago, Danville, Rockford, Lake County (either Park City, North Chicago or Waukegan) and Cook County (either Bloom, Bremen, Calumet, Rich, Thornton or Worth Townships), while a newly-created Chicago Casino Development Authority would have the ability to place slot machines at O’Hare and Midway Airports.  Illinois horse race tracks would also have the opportunity to host up to 1,200 slot machines at their facilities under newly-created “electronic gaming licenses.”  Notably, though prior efforts at expanding gaming in Illinois have sought to allow for Internet gambling in the state, an iGaming provision was not included in the version of SB1739 that passed the Senate.

Though Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) has vetoed prior gaming expansion bills, a recent statement from the Governor’s Office in response to SB1739 indicated that Gov. Quinn was pleased with the “ethical improvements” made in this proposal, and that his office is continuing to work with lawmakers to make additional refinements.


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